More contagious coronavirus variant found in California, governor says
The more contagious variant of the coronavirus has been found in Southern California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Wednesday.
Newsom made the announcement at the beginning of a livestreamed conversation with Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, and did not provide details on the case other than saying it is in Southern California.
The development comes after Colorado officials announced on Tuesday the first confirmed U.S. case of the new variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
Colorado has announced one confirmed case and one possible case, meaning California could have the third known case in the U.S.
Officials said at a press conference later on Wednesday that the case of the new variant in California is a man in his 30s in San Diego County with no travel history, again indicating that the variant is spreading to some degree in the community. The man is not hospitalized, and contact tracing is under way. There was one household contact, officials said.
“Because there is no travel history we believe this is not an isolated case in San Diego County,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.
Fauci said in the conversation with Newsom the new case is not a surprise and that he expects additional cases of the new variant will soon be reported in other states as well.
“I’m not surprised that you have a case and likely more cases in California, and we likely will be seeing reports from other states,” he said.
Fauci offered reassurance that while the new variant does appear to be more transmissible, it does not appear to cause more severe disease or evade the protection from vaccines.
“There’s no indication at all that it increases the virulence,” Fauci said while noting that the National Institutes of Health and other labs are closely studying it for more information.
The announcement comes as Southern California has been hit particularly hard by the virus and hospitals there face tremendous strain.
Health officials are urging people to practice the same precautions against the new variant of the virus, including wearing masks, avoiding indoor gatherings with other households, maintaining distance and washing hands.
Updated at 6:21 p.m.